Film Festival: Contemporary Christmas
Last Holiday (2006) is a contemporary Christmas story starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, and Gerard Depardieu. I love a good Queen Latifah movie and I hope you will try this movie if you haven’t seen it!
When we first meet Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) she is distractedly singing with her church gospel choir. The choir is looking forward to Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito) visiting them to talk about community redevelopment.
Georgia lives near the river in New Orleans and is a big Emeril Lagasse fan. Georgia is a pretty meek person and her life is very regular: buy groceries, use coupons, practice cooking fancy meals for the little boy next door while she eats Lean Cuisine. She carefully photographs her delicious creations and places the photos in her “possibilities” scrapbook.
Georgia fantasizes about her co-worker, Sean (LL Cool J). They work at Kragen’s Department Store. Georgia sells cookware and offers cooking demonstrations that neighborhood people come to sample regularly. Georgia clashes with her supervisor who is very focused on getting ahead.
“What brings you to cookware? –It’s that smell to tell you the truth. Can’t help it. It wafts down the escalator. Usually I can resist. –Oh, well please have some. –I’ll probably get fired over this. Did you ever have a smell that triggers a memory? This smells like my mama’s house.”—Georgia and Sean
Just as Sean is about to ask Georgia on a date, she bumps her head and gets checked out at the Kragen clinic. A used CAT scan machine indicates that she has Lampington’s Disease.
“What? Like I’m gonna die? –I’m very very sorry. –But I feel fine. I feel great. I just finished a fat flush! …–I’m afraid in your condition you’ve got about 3 weeks to live.” –Georgia and doctor
As Georgia cries over her Possibilities dream book, she mourns not meeting Chef Didier at Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. She ends up quitting her job, cashes in her retirement, and tries to say goodbye to her friends and church. She books herself into the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary.
She gets in trouble with the flight crew on the plane.
“I’m gonna tell you what the problem is. This greedy airline put all these seats so close together just so they could make more money. Awright. Now I’m not flying all the way to Prague with some stranger in my lap!” –Georgia
After flying first class, she arrives at the hotel in a helicopter. Checking in, she discovers that her Senator Dillings is at the hotel in a Christmas skiing party with Matthew Kragen and Congressman Stewart. Because she makes comments about Dillings and Kragen, the staff is abuzz with how important she is.
Her first stop is a boutique to get the right clothes for her trip. I just love it when she says to the saleslady “Make me international!”.
Georgia is filled with delight and anticipation as she sits down for her first meal in Chef Didier’s restaurant. She orders all the specials so she won’t miss any of his creations.
“For specialites de maison we have the cassoulet, we have risotto barolo with truffles, the rouget citrus beurre blanc with capers, roast quail with brioche stuffing, and the braised lamb shank with blood orange relish. —Ooh blood orange relish. Now that all sounds so good. Will he have the same specials tomorrow night? –No, Chef Didier never creates the same menu twice. –Well, I guess I’d better try them all tonight then. –Tout? All? –Tout baby! Tout suite!” –waiter and Georgia
Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu) comes out to sit with Georgia and talk with her about the meal. Kragen (Timothy Hutton) and his party are sitting where they can see, and this puts Kragen on a mission to find out more about this mysterious powerful woman.
While Sean is trying to find out what happened to Georgia, she is trying every spa service in the hotel. Senator Dillings tries to flirt with her. Kragen tries to hide his affair with his assistant Ms. Burns (Alicia Witt.)
“It’s not that easy. If I leave him, I’ll have to quit my job. What am I going to do? I didn’t finish school. —Well, then you go back to school. There now, we solved it! Let’s tackle something heavy like world hunger.” –Ms. Burns and Georgia
Snowboarding, base jumping, roulette table, and a Smokey Robinson concert are more of the glamorous actitivies for Georgia.
“The poor baby turnip. Nobody likes them. Of course, life is easy if you are a truffle or shitake mushroom. But the turnip is to be loved because she is a self made woman of vegetables. All the others you can only destroy with cooking. But the turnip, she gets better. So you see it’s not how you start, but how you finish.” –Chef Didier
Last Holiday is a remake of a 1950 British film starring Alec Guinness. Lampington’s Disease is fictional.
Watch to see if Georgia gets cured and Sean finds a way to be with her. If you like a good Christmas fantasy romance, elegant hotels and clothes, and mouth-watering gourmet dishes, you will have a good time with Queen Latifah and Last Holiday!
- Last Holiday (2006) from IMDb
- Emeril Lagasse recipes on Food Network
- Risotto Barolo recipe from The Guardian
- Queen Latifah movies from Flick Chart
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